One of the treasures of the map collection here at the National Library of Wales is Thomas Taylor’s atlas of Wales “The Principality of Wales exactly described” published in 1718. This was the first atlas of Wales and forms part of our digital collections. What few people are aware of is that there was an attempt to produce a second edition of the atlas.
In approximately 1731 a London publisher called Thomas Bakewell obtained the printing plates to the original atlas along with Taylor’s companion atlas to the English counties. While his re-issue of the English counties is well known, very little is known about the later history of the Welsh atlas. In fact until the late 1980s information about the only extant example was dismissed as a mistake on the part of the then owner.
This copy was not bound as an atlas the maps had been pasted onto blank leaves at the end of another, larger atlas. It is unclear as to whether the atlas was ever actually published or if these maps are proof (test) copies.
I’m sure you can imagine the excitement when we were offered for sale a similar copy, shown here.
The copy we have obtained consists of two uncut plates with the title page and five maps on one plate and six maps on the second. Again this suggests a galley proof rather than a finished publication.
As there are only two known copies of this work and neither appears to be bound for publication it is most likely that this is a failed experiment which never saw the light of day.
Beyond the title page, which makes no mention of Thomas Taylor, only Thomas Bakewell, there are a number of changes to the maps. Most obviously a map of Wales has been added. This does not exist in the original Taylor atlas. The map was engraved by William Roades, and does not appear anywhere else so was probably created for this atlas.
The other major change is the map of Anglesey; this has been re-engraved, again by Roades, and reoriented to match the other maps, as shown below. In the original Taylor atlas the Anglesey map was in portrait rather than landscape orientation.
The map itself is the same as in the Taylor atlas, even the cartouche is the same, giving the lie to the title of “A new map of the Isle of Anglesey”. This map is the only one to bear a date, 1731, which matches the date of Bakewell’s acquisition of the original Taylor plates.
All the other plates are those used for the Taylor atlas, except that in each case the imprint, Taylor’s name in the title cartouche and the date 1718 have been removed, except for the example of the map of Brecknockshire and Radnorshire where it was removed from the Brecknock cartouche but left on the Radnor one.
It can be seen from the example above that the removal of Taylor’s name and imprint was done hurriedly and poorly executed, in the case of Caernarvonshire the word by has been left followed by an empty space. In most cases Bakewell’s name was not added in place of Taylor’s; the only exception being the dedication on the Pembrokeshire map where Bakewell’s surname has been added rather untidily in place of Taylor’s.
The lack of bound examples and the poor workmanship of the altered plates all suggests that this was a hurried attempt to put together a new edition of Taylor’s Welsh atlas and that after the proof stage it was decided not to continue to full publication.
Even though the atlas does not appear to have been published, as an example of a galley proof of mapping of Wales this is a valuable part of the cartographic history of our nation and a worthy addition to our collections.
Grand hall of the Grande Bibliothèque du Québec, Montreal; April 2005. Photograph and compositing by Montrealais.
In 2004, almost a hundred years after the founding of the National Library of Wales, the Quebec government passed an act which amalgamated the collections and services of the national library and archives with a public library facility, to create the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). Over the summer I visited BAnQ for a book history conference, and learnt that the design of this iconic glass building in the centre of Montreal represents a key element of BAnQ’s mission statement. BAnQ aims to engage with the people and culture it represents by actually showing the public what is going on inside of the building. The key phrase I kept hearing was: the library is in the city, but the city should also exist within the library.
La Grande Bibliothèque, 475, boulevard De Maisonneuve Est, Montréal
The National Library of Quebec was actually created in 1967 at a key time in Québécois history known as the Quiet Revolution, when a surge of French-Canadian nationalism caused major socio-cultural change. This period is not dissimilar from Wales in the late nineteenth century, when a surge of Welsh nationalism became a political force, enabling institutions such as the National Library of Wales to come into being. A visually austere library, the National Library of Wales is a product of its time and was deliberately built on a hill away from the hustle and bustle of city life. However, the purpose and function of both libraries is fundamentally the same: to collect, preserve and disseminate publications and archival material relating to a particular nation or group’s culture and heritage, previously underrepresented by their designated national libraries.
Calista Williams @Ca7ista
Calista Williams is an AHRC-funded doctoral student, about to begin her third year of study.
Her PhD is part of an innovative collaboration between the Open University and The National Library of Wales.
Images from Wikimedia:
The opening page of Euclid’s Elements in Latin (Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, 1482)
In 1927 Sir Charles Thomas-Stanford, 1st Baronet and former Conservative M.P. for Brighton, donated to the Library 39 volumes of the works of the Greek mathematician Euclid, who lived around 300 B.C. The volumes are all pre-1600 editions of the Elements, the standard geometry textbook until the late 19th century, the earliest dating from 1482. The collection has been added to over the years, and now contains over 300 volumes, including editions of the Elements in Greek, Arabic, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Latin, Spanish and Swedish, as well as examples of Euclid’s other writings.
Many of the books are illustrated with geometrical diagrams, and some include circular diagrams with moving parts known as volvelles. A number of them also contain manuscript notes by previous owners.
Volvelles from Euclid’s Elements in English (London: Tho. Woodward, 1733), purchased by the Library in 2015.
Until very recently much of this important collection was accessible only via the microfiche catalogues, but earlier this year the entire collection was catalogued online.
A 1570 edition of Euclid’s Elements can be seen in the exhibition The Secret Workings of Nature: Robert Hooke and Early Science, which is in the Hengwrt gallery until 9th January 2016.
Manuscript annotations in Euclid’s Catoptrica (Paris: Andreas Wechel, 1557), a work on optics.
On Friday September 11th the Library will welcome Lord Rees of Ludlow, the Astronomer Royal and one of Britain’s most eminent scientists. He will deliver a lecture to coincide with the exhibition The Secret Workings of Nature. Lord Rees was President of the Royal Society from 2005 to 2012, and among his many prizes and honours are the Order of Merit, to which he was appointed in 2007, the Templeton Prize in 2011 and the Isaac Newton Medal in 2012. The Order of Merit is an award that is confined to twenty four British people who have contributed greatly to promoting the sciences, literature etc.
Lord Martin Rees
The title of the lecture will be Life and the cosmos: four centuries of expanding horizons. Maybe some of you have read or watched programmes in the media recently about the idea of multiverses. This is a theory originating from quantum theory which predicts an unlimited number of possible universes by looking at energy and matter on a small scale. Lord Rees will touch on this subject and its relevance on a cosmic scale, and will give us a new perspective to look at the universe. Other questions that he will address include how did the stars, planets and life come into being, why is the universe what it is, what – or who – established the laws that it follows, and do any other universes exist? Despite the fact that we know far more about the universe than during the time of Hooke and Newton, it’s apparent that we have much more to learn in this exciting field.
The Secret Workings of Nature: Robert Hooke and Early Science exhibition involves Robert Hooke and his book Micrographia which was published by the Royal Society. It also includes items by other scientists who were early members of the Royal Society, such as Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle and the Welshmen Edward Lhuyd and William Jones. Therefore the visit of Lord Rees as former President of the Society is very apt. One of the aims of the Society at its inception was to popularise science, something which is close to Lord Rees’s heart.
Earlier this year Lord Rees attracted headlines for suggesting that the educational system does not capitalise on children’s natural curiosity for the world around them in order to encourage them to study science, a subject that is of vital importance for our country to grow culturally and economically. The National Library is seeking to play its part in the quest to educate children and adults of all abilities and background so that they appreciate and value science.
To coincide with the science exhibition of the National Library of Wales; The secret workings of nature: Robert Hooke and early science a number of notable events will be held in the Library during the next few weeks.
A lecture was given by Dr Gareth Griffith on Robert Hooke and Micrographia on the 8th of July. The next event in the series will be Dr Paul Evans lecturing on Thomas Pennant on the 2nd of September. Pennant was one of the most famous naturalists of his day. He was a Welshman from Flintshire who collected art works, mainly to do with science. Many of his works can be seen in the Library, and one of the volumes of his work A History of Quadrupeds can be seen in the exhibition. He travelled around Britain making detailed notes of the wild life that he saw alongside his servant Moses Griffiths, who was one of the best scientific artists of his day.
On September 11th the Library will welcome Lord Rees of Ludlow, the Astronomer Royal and one of Britain’s most eminent scientists. Lord Rees was President of the Royal Society from 2005 to 2012, and among his many prizes and honours are the Order of Merit , to which he was appointed in 2007, the Templeton Prize in 2011 and the Isaac Newton award in 2012. The Order of Merit is an award that is confined to twenty four British people who have contributed greatly to promoting the sciences, literature etc.
The exhibition involves Robert Hooke and his book Micrographia which was published by the Royal Society and also included items by other scientists who were early members of the Royal Society, such as Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle and the Welshmen Edward Lhuyd and William Jones. Therefore the visit of Lord Rees as former President of the Society is very apt. One of the aims of the Society at its inception was to popularise science, something which is close to Lord Rees’s heart.
The title of the lecture will be Life and the cosmos: four centuries of expanding horizons. The lecture will address questions such as how did the stars, planets and life come into being, why is the universe what it is, what – or who – established the laws that it follows, and do any other universes exist?
A science lecture will also take place on the 7th of October with the title Copenhagen and Wales, given by Professor Gareth Ffowc Roberts and Dr Rowland Wynne. The lecture will deal with the role and influence of the famous scientist Niels Bohr through his pioneering of quantum theory – a profound and complicated subject, both philosophical and scientific, that underpins very many modern inventions. He inspired a number of scientists from Wales, and in the lecture, their contribution to science will be outlined, together with the nature of their dealings with Bohr.
Avril Jones, Director of Collection Services at the Library said: “These events show that the Library takes seriously its role of educating the people of Wales, while wrestling with subjects that are of vital importance in order for Wales to grow culturally and economically.”
Thomas Pennant is one of those authors who seem to remain popular and relevant. His prose is beautifully crafted, so that he is often quoted. In fact he is probably best known at second hand rather than first.
As a polymath, Pennant was one of the classic 18th century scholar gentlemen who could spend their energies researching and discovering, visiting and touring, writing and reading. His was an almost scholastic existence of gathering information and publishing findings.
The Library recently acquired a letter by Pennant written on 17 August 1764, (NLW MS 24045F) we are not certain who was the recipient, but evidently one of his scholarly circle. This letter allows us a rare insight to Pennant’s life, which is worth noting and exploring. His first wife died in 1764 and this letter represents his response to a friend, as he recovers an interest in collecting and sharing information.
The letter written by Thomas Pennant NLW MS 24045F
Remarkable is the amount and the detail of material that he was able and willing to share. The writer also shows us how drawings were shared on particular subjects and how he promoted and expanded his publishing interests. Pennant is seen, through this letter, as a person full of ideas and energy; with a clear vision and focus in his work. Another point of real significance is that he notes that that the previous year he had offered to purchase ‘a certain number of original drawings… which are to be sold for a quarter of their original value’. Pennant was one of the great 18th century collectors of drawings, certainly within Wales maybe the person who safeguarded some of the most important works on paper of Welsh antiquities and landscape.
But why do we purchase one letter? It forms part of a much larger body of material written by Pennant and it adds a sense of the urgency with which he undertook his research. Seeing the handwritten text with crossing out and smudges gives us a sense of the process of thinking: Pennant wrote with ease and confidence, thinking as he composed his prose, so we get the feeling of something fresh and alive. We are witness to his life as a gatherer of facts and material: always on the look -out for new things.
Pennant’s letter, written in the summer of 1764, opens a window on the life and work of one of our most influential authors of topography and wildlife. It sends us a message, that even in adversity, the person who is determined can overcome their circumstances and develop their career successfully. Yes, he had vast resources, but he also had the will to learn which we can all acquire and nurture.
To coincide with the exhibition “The Secret workings of Nature: Robert Hooke and early science” a lecture entitled “Thomas Pennant: the leading British zoologist after Ray and before Darwin” will be given by Dr Paul Evans at the Library on Wednesday September 2nd at 1:15 p.m.
Several years ago the National Library of Wales digitised around five thousand paintings, sketches, engravings and prints of Welsh landscapes mostly dating from 1750-1850.
Many of these are accurate topographical representations which are of huge value to historians, conservationists and archaeologists, whilst others are romanticised artistic works which simply capture the beauty of the Welsh landscape and aspect of Welsh life in a time before the invention of the camera.
As Wikipedian in Residence, making this collection available to Wikipedians was one of my first priorities, and now the entire collection is being released into the public domain and uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.
Already these fantastic images of castles, high streets, churches, ruins, and more, are being added to Wikipedia articles.
Events will soon be held to make more use of these images on Wikipedia, enriching the history of Wales on the world’s most used encyclopaedia.
Browse through the images here and please let us know if you are interested in helping us by adding these images to Wikipedia articles.
A plan of a first bridge to be constructed between Anglesey and mainland Wales. 1820
Aberystwyth Harbour, c.1850
The weeks’ events at the National Library of Wales stand (601 – 605) at the Montgomeryshire and Marches National Eisteddfod 2015
We are looking forward to visit Mathrafal! We will have a stand at the Eisteddfod with allocated space for art work created by pupils in Mid Wales, based on Mathrafal – ac ancient seat of the Princes of Powys. This Library Outreach Education Project is sponsored by Scottish Power Foundation and has worked with 270 pupils from local schools, and art workshops with Hilary and Graham Roberts. The art work, in the form of eight banners will be on display at the Library stand at the Eisteddfod.
Also on the Library stand will be information on the Cynefin project and the ‘Gwladfa’ and ‘Philip Jones Griffiths: A Welsh Focus on War and Peace’ exhibitions.
We have also compiled the following events, so if you intent on visiting the Eisteddfod, pop in and see us…
Monday 3 August
12:00pm Gig: Gwenan Gibbard
2.30pm Patagonia 150 – ‘ Yma i Aros’ Eirionedd Baskerville talks about her new book
Tuesday 4 August
12.00pm Gig: Ynyr Llwyd
2.30pm “Enwau ein Cynefin” – Dr Rhian Parry, Caeau Cymru, S4C
Wednesday 5 August
12.00pm Gig: Gildas
Thursday 6 August
12.00pm Gig: Sorela
2.30pm Chat with Beryl Vaughan, Eisteddfod Executive Committee Chair
3.30pm ‘Ar gof a chadw’: the importance of personal thoughts and memories to dementia care – Arwel Ellis Owen
Friday 7 August
12.00pm Gig: Côr y Gen (The Library Choir)
2.30pm Llys Glyndŵr – David Vickers, Gregynog Press talks about the press’ latest book
Saturday 8 August
2.30pm ‘Y danbaid fendigaid Ann’. Sian Meinir chats to Lis Hughes Jones, show director.
Y danbaid fendigaid Ann
See you there!
The National Library of Wales’s digital collections have grown significantly in recent years and users have become familiar with searching and browsing our online catalogue and digital resources such as the recently revamped Welsh Newspapers Online website. But soon there will be another way to access our collections …
NLW Data is a new initiative from NLW Research that will offer a new way of accessing some of our collections. NLW Data will focus on providing direct programmatic access to the various types of data held by the National Library of Wales. As a result users will be able to download datasets. This makes it possible for users to use their own software tools or to query datasets programmatically (for example as Linked Open Data or via APIs).
The first dataset released in this way is the result of transcription work by the NLW Volunteer Programme that enabled certain portions of the Aberystwyth Shipping Records Archive to be made available as Excel Spreadsheets.
NLW volunteers transcribing the 19th century shipping registers
What can you do next?
- To find out about more about this specific collection, see this blog post.
- To see an example of one of the crew lists click here.
- To download this dataset go to NLW Data.
- If you’re interested in finding out more about NLW Data or if you have any ideas or suggestions for developing this service, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Owain Roberts
Acting Head of Research
The Annual Conference of the Art Libraries Society of the UK & Ireland gives the opportunity for art librarians to share experiences, new technology and research. The conference has been held in Wales once before – its first conference in 1972 was held at Aberystwyth. Cardiff Metropolitan University was the host this year and attracted speakers and delegates from a wide range of libraries, galleries, museums and universities.
Keynote speaker, Linda Tomos of MALD told the group of librarians specializing in art resources from across the UK, Ireland and beyond about a range of projects and initiatives in museums, libraries and archives across Wales, including Kids in Museums – Taking Over Day, and two projects based the National Library, Cynefin and the popular People’s Collection. Later on the first day, Amanda-Jane Doran provided an analysis of First World War newspaper adverts. Jo Elsworth from the Bristol Theatre Archive discussed the use of gaming technologies in exhibitions and displays. Sally Williams and Louise Rytter showed how the National Art Library has supported the blockbuster Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Richard Morris closed the talks by describing how Cardiff School of Art & Design undertook the huge task of relocating from Howard Gardens, their home for 150 years, to a new building in Llandaff.
My talk gave an overview of the art collections of the National Library. It was quite a challenge – the library has over 50,000 works of art in all kinds of media in its collection – so a lot to fit in to a 30 minute talk! The Library collects Welsh landscapes, works by Welsh artists and portraits of Welsh people. One of the ‘stars’ of the collection is Richard Wilson, best known as the ‘father of British landscape painting.’ A lesser known fact is that Wilson was also an occasional librarian – as one of the founders of the Royal Academy, he was appointed its librarian in 1776.
Even though he is most known for his landscapes, the Library has several portraits by Wilson, including one of his cousin, Catherine Jones of Colomendy. Wilson is best known for his large landscape works, but this small, early work shows his skill in portraiture. The work has an element of pathos – in his later years, Wilson’s reputation declined and he suffered ill health. During this period, Catherine cared for the artist when he was dependent on the charity of family. Although not as famous as his landscape works, the portrait helps build a full picture of the artist’s life.
Next year’s conference will be held in Dublin.
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